There are many ways one can study a concept, a subject or anything else in the world. However, when it comes to studying something for your academic purposes, you do need very good books, recommended ones, suggested ones or acclaimed ones to ensure that you get the best text, best context and the best examples given by those who are celebrated in that particular field fo study. Today, because of my person experiences in the field, I will be talking about the best ways to study literary theory with the help of best books and will also discuss the basic difficulties and the ways to get over those. Here is the article that any student of English literature will like. So, which are the best books to study literary theory and criticism?


It will always be wise if you begin by any book that offers you the introduction to the theories that are contemporary and in practice more frequently compared to the ones that are just for the academic discourse. So, any expert will suggest you going for the best one there – Beginning Theory by Peter Barry. This is one book that has helped many beginners in modern literary theories. It has a very special style of making the readers understand what are the essential components of a theory, what do the experts do and also some exercises to help you track your understanding of the theory. You will certainly like this book.

Once you have the introductory ideas about literary theories, you can try to expand your understanding and broaden your area of studies by including books on special issues in your studies. I am reminded of one book by Raman Selden, A Reader’s guide to contemporary theory. This book will help you in many ways because it has dealt with the theories in a very comfortable way. You will get the advanced opinions and ideas that you are prepared to learn in Peter Barry’s book with the basics. You can also read Patricia Waugh’s edited anthology of essays on different theories.

Do remember that literary theory and literary criticism are two different things. One is practice and one is understanding the practice. So, you have to read different books to understand literary criticism in a historical sense. You can read the one by Cleanth Brooks – Literary Criticism: A Short History – and this book will explain literary criticism to you, right from the beginning to the end.

Anything you read, do remember to read it to the last so that you can have a complete idea and not just the overview. It will be very essential in the long-run as you go deeper and deeper into these subjects. Also, once you become a person responsible for making others understand these ideas, these reading sessions will help you a lot.

I am sure that this will give you an idea on how to study literary theory with the help of books that are recommended. Keep doing well!

Written by Amit for The Best Books

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